Lawyers representing NewLead Holdings in a vessel arrest suit have been granted permission to withdraw as counsel for the Greek shipowner due to unpaid legal fees and costs.
The US District Court in Savannah, Georgia approved the application filed by attorneys Michael G Chalos and George Kontakis from New York-based law firm K&L Gates, and Thomas Langston Bass Jr from Savannah-based firm Brennan, Harris & Rominger.
The application states that NewLead has not paid its counsel since before July, in spite of having made representations that the money was on its way.
The lawyers had been acting as defence counsel for NewLead Holdings’ arrested bulk carrier NewLead Castellano. Their withdrawal leaves NewLead without counsel.
The court has instructed NewLead to retain new defence lawyers, who must file a notice of appearance within 20 days or face a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favour.
A spokeswoman for NewLead Holdings told Splash: “Following the company’s’ recent decision to consider taking further legal action in the Ray Capital v Newlead Castellano case and therefore appointing a new counsel to the case, we are in the process of settling all outstanding amounts with Michael Chalos. There was indeed a delay in the payment of the legal costs and fees merely due to time required to evaluate further course of action.”
The handymax NewLead Castellano (pictured) was arrested off Savannah, Georgia on April 19 this year by Ray Capital, one of NewLead’s creditors, which claimed $7.1m relating to an unpaid promissory note.
The ship was subsequently sold at auction in the US in August for $7.4m to Singapore’s MT Maritime Management.